Lectio Divina is a Latin term that is used to describe an ancient Christian practice of reading the Bible. It actually means “spiritual reading”. It is different from our usual linear and intellectual approach to reading scripture in that we listen for the Spirit’s revelation in the verse rather than relying on our own intellectual understanding of it.
Some liken the practice to enjoying a meal. It involves four movements:
Before you begin, find a quiet place that is comfortable. Take time to turn off anything that might interrupt your time with God.
1. We take a little bite… the Latin term for this is Lectio… we read the word out in silence or out loud and simply listen to what it says… noticing what words or phrases seem to grab our attention. We repeat this slowly several times, each time taking care to notice the words that the Holy Spirit seems to be highlighting for us. It can be helpful to write some of these words or phrases down to ponder.
2. We chew on it… the Latin term for this is Meditatio… we take time to meditate on what the Spirit is showing us. This time, we only ponder the one word or phrase that has captured our attention. We open ourselves to what the Spirit might be saying through the one word or phrase to us. We ask ourselves what God’s invitation to us might be.
3. We savor it… the Latin term for this is Oratorio. This is somewhat like a quiet dialog with God. We take time to thank God for what the Spirit is revealing to us. We open new areas of ourselves and our hearts to God’s presence and we listen for God’s affirming words to us.
4. We digest it… the Latin term for this is contemplatio. We contemplate this internally for the rest of the day. As God’s words sink deeper within us, we grow. We experience the nourishing presence of God with us throughout the day.
How you can use this practice:
As an individual, if you are just starting… Pick your favorite Psalm and engage with it in the way that is explained above. If you do not have a Psalm in mind use Psalm 1, 46 or 23.
As a group… Pick a Gospel story or a parable. Any one will do. You may want to try this after you share a meal together, get together for a group activity or after you sit down together to watch TV at night but before you actually turn on the TV. Decide on one person who will read the passage out loud. Follow the four movements described above. Some may find it helpful to say the one word or phrase the touches them out loud to the group. Allow for that if it seems right. Listen to what God might be saying to the group. You may want to read the passage a second or third time in a similar way. When it seems time to be done say, “Amen.” Your done. If you desire to have conversation about God might be saying to you as a group feel free to talk about that or just move on to whatever is next on your activity list.